Award-winning prod co behind Wallander and Occupied opens for business in UK
Banijay Group, the leading independent creator, producer and distributor of worldwide content, is strengthening its international position in the scripted genre with the launch of Yellow Bird Productions UK.
Yellow Bird’s current Chief Creative Officer Berna Levin will head up the UK business having been part of Yellow Bird since 2003. During that time she has been integral to several of the company’s biggest international projects including the highly acclaimed Millenium Trilogy, and Jo Nesbo’s Headhunters. As CCO she has overseen the development of the company’s entire slate and acquisitions of all new projects. Yellow Bird was established in 2003 when it released a series of television films based on Swedish author Henning Mankell’s renowned fictional detective Kurt Wallander. It is now one of Scandinavia’s leading film and television production companies, responsible for many global hits including Occupied, Wallander, Asa Larsson’s Rebecka Martinsson, and Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy.
Yellow Bird Productions UK will focus on developing and creating original ideas with international appeal and a Scandi edge for the UK market, working with all broadcasters and platforms. Based in central London alongside fellow Banijay scripted production companies BlackLight TV and Fearless Minds, the new company will have close ties to the Stockholm-based Yellow Bird, run by MD Johannes Jensen and part of Banijay Zodiak Nordics.
The UK market will be familiar with many of Yellow Bird’s scripted titles; dark political thriller series Occupied enjoyed a successful run on Sky Arts, with Banijay Rights launching the second 8 x 45’ series at Mipcom this month. Whilst the new UK business will hope to build on the reputation of its Nordic parents and replicate their success, its focus will very much be on creating original and authentic IP for the UK market, collaborating with high-profile talent, authors and scriptwriters from start to finish.
The new entity will also be a part of Banijay Studios International, which coordinates all of Banijay’s scripted activity and is headed up by Group Head of Fiction Takis Candilis. The studio has a number of high-end projects in development and the group now has scripted production in 12 of the 16 territories it operates in worldwide.
The creation of Yellow Bird Productions UK marks Banijay’s continued push in scripted as set out by Candilis and Group COO Peter Langenberg, and as demonstrated with the recent addition of BlackLight TV and Fearless Minds. The group expects to announce further additions to its scripted family in the coming months.
Berna Levin, Creative Director, Yellow Bird UK, said:
“Yellow Bird has always had the ambition of creating high-end drama for an international market and I am incredibly proud of what we have accomplished so far. Having already worked closely with talent and broadcasters in the UK, this feels like the natural next step and I’m very excited to be joining such an impressive and talented creative community. I look forward to many fruitful collaborations as we continue our quest to find great stories, and bring fantastic characters to life.”
Takis Candilis, Head of Fiction, Banijay Group said:
“The success of Yellow Bird has been recognised by industry professionals and worldwide audiences alike, so we are thrilled to have this opportunity to bring some of that creative magic to the UK. I have absolute confidence that Berna will bring all her enthusiasm, creativity and professionalism to the new company, making Yellow Bird UK a force to be reckoned with in the world market.”